The Sable Offshore Energy Project was Canada’s first offshore natural gas project. The Sable Project has been responsible for providing a new source of clean energy to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and new supply to the northeastern United States.
The Sable Project dates back to the issuing of exploration licenses in the late 1950s, early offshore drilling in the 1960s, and a series of discoveries in the 1970s and 1980s.
In the mid-1990s, the joint venture that would develop the Sable Project was formed and the regulatory process began leading in 1998 to approval of the development of the Sable Project as well as construction of the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline which would carry Sable natural gas to markets in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the U.S. Northeast.
The Sable Project is made up of seven offshore platforms in five different fields with 21 wells, and 340 kilometres of subsea pipeline. The fields are Thebaud, North Triumph, Venture, Alma and South Venture.
The development is spread over 200 square kilometres near Sable Island in the North Atlantic Ocean. The seven platforms are located in shallow water with depths between 22 and 76 metres.
Interfield pipelines connect satellite fields to the central Thebaud complex, which is made up of a processing facility and accommodations unit, a wellhead platform and a compression deck.
The Thebaud complex is connected by a 200 kilometre subsea pipeline to a gas plant located at Goldboro, Guysborough County. There, liquids are removed and sent by pipeline to the Point Tupper Fractionation Plant for additional processing and with its end products such as propane and butane delivered to market by truck, rail and ship. Meanwhile, market-ready gas is transported to from Goldboro to customers via the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline.
The project was built in phases with first gas production achieved on December 31, 1999, and ongoing production of natural gas and natural gas liquids since that time.
The Sable Project’s day to day operations are supported by supply and stand-by vessels and helicopters that take personnel to and from the field, and to the satellite fields as part of ongoing operations and maintenance work. Another key support is a shorebase located on Halifax Harbour.
On a typical day offshore facilities are staffed with approximately 50 personnel, with another 50 would-be personnel off shift. The onshore plants are operated by an integrated workforce of approximately 30-35 personnel.
Additional staff and resources are deployed during special projects such as maintenance turnarounds.
In a typical year, the Sable Project is supported by approximately 300 to 350 full time equivalent personnel, most of whom are located in Nova Scotia.
The Sable Project is operated by ExxonMobil Canada Properties (50.8% ownership). The other owners are Shell Canada Limited (31.3%), Imperial Oil Resources (9%), Pengrowth Energy Corporation (8.4%) and Mosbacher Operating Ltd (0.5%).